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RE: What about "taxonomies"? RE: Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and faceted classification

From: Aida Slavic <aida@acorweb.net>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2005 13:47:01 -0000
To: "SKOS" <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

I can only offer the clear-cut distinction from the
theory of documentary/bibliographic classifications
where any classifications can be either taxonomic or aspect(perspective).

In taxonomic or entity classification each entity has only one
place in the classification structure. That is, an entity is
classed according to one of its properties.
(e.g. iron in the taxonomy of chemical elements will have a single

In an aspect or perspective classifications an entity will
be placed in several places according to the aspect
from which it is studied...(e.g. iron may be classed in
chemistry, medicine, industry, mining, art)

Taxonomic classificatory structures are used for representation of
a specific knowledge field or area. Aspect classifications are necessary in
communication and dissemination of recorded knowledge and they have to deal
not only with knowledge per se but with its presentation, aspects,
applications etc.)
Any aspect classification may contain a number of taxonomies.

I my expereince people use expression 'taxonomy' instead of using term
The use of 'words' (instead of notation+words) does not change the
nature of the existing structure. So the use of words in representation
of what is essentially a classification structure will not convert it to a
Classificatory structure, and taxonomy as a type of classification,
can be represented by words and they usually are when implemented for IR
but they are still classifications.


-----Original Message-----
From: public-esw-thes-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-esw-thes-request@w3.org]On Behalf Of Leonard Will
Sent: 02 February 2005 12:30
Subject: Re: What about "taxonomies"? RE: Glossary of terms relating to
thesauri and faceted classification

In message <GOEIKOOAMJONEFCANOKCMEEHFIAA.bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> on
Wed, 2 Feb 2005, Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> wrote
>Re-reading your excellent work, I'm not finding the word "taxonomy"
>OTOH, the SKOS page presents SKOS Core as "an RDF vocabulary for
>describing thesauri, glossaries, taxonomies, terminologies".
>This word "taxonomy" makes me really nervous, because it is used by so
>many people in so many different ways ... And I would gladly live
>without it, except in its original sense used in my botanics books and
>that seems to be consistent with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy
>But the IT industry has decided it otherwise, and seem to use the word
>in all sorts of ways which, at the end of the day, seems to me, boil
>down to some kind of skos:ConceptScheme. And customers keep asking our
>salesman : "How do you manage taxonomies?", and he forwards the
>questions to me :((
. . .
>I would like to have the opinion of folks here about this "taxonomy"
>issue before answering "skos:ConceptScheme" when people say "Taxonomy"
>Similar question for "terminology", BTW
>Thanks for your lights


I've received both copies of your message - I'll just reply to the list
to save you from receiving unnecessary duplicates.

I quite agree with you that it would be much better if we could leave
the term "taxonomy" to the biologists. Unfortunately it has become
fashionable, though as you say it is not clear what its definition
should be, which is the reason why there is no definition for it yet in
the glossary on my Web page.

Personally I think its use often conceals some woolly thinking by people
who are not quite sure whether they are talking about a thesaurus, a
classification scheme or some combination of these. The combined schemes
are important, because I like the "unified" approach, where a set of
defined concepts can be arranged (a) alphabetically, with relationships
listed under each; (b) hierarchically, based on BT/NT relationships; and
(c) in classified groupings and sequences bringing together concepts
relating to the same subject area, i.e. as a faceted classification

Perhaps "concept scheme" is sufficiently broad to cover all possible
different structures of concepts and their relationships - is there a
formal definition of "skos:ConceptScheme"?

I'd be interested in any recommendations for a precise definition of
"taxonomy" in the wider sense. At present I'm inclined to define it with
my tongue in my cheek as "a classification scheme, typically used for
Web sites, designed without regard to established and consistent



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Received on Wednesday, 2 February 2005 13:47:48 UTC

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